Weeks 2-3 : Hiawassee to Gatlinburg
Let’s get real for a minute here; hiking is hard! I have an ongoing bargaining conversation with my feet that goes something like this:
Me: Ok, come on guys, we’re doing more miles today than yesterday, but I know you can do it!
Feet: We were not consulted when making the decision to climb mountains all day every day. We hate you.
Me: I’m sorry, I’ll stop halfway and elevate you for half an hour! That will help!
Feet: That’s what you think. When you start walking again, we’re gonna fight it with everything we’ve got.
Me: How about if I give you a nice massage at the end of the day?
Feet: Ha. Like you’ll be able to bend your knees by then.
Me: Ok let me strike a deal with my knees and I’ll get back to you…
And so on, for most of the day. Until I collapse in a heap at the shelter and don’t make good on any of the promises I made to all of my aching body parts.
That is my life now. And yet somehow, that isn’t what stands out when I look back on each day. I haven’t laughed so much in a long time. It feels like a sleepover every night. Dill and Toast are hilarious, and I can’t imagine doing this without them. I love our little stink pod, and was sad to say goodbye to Boston, our fourth member, a few days ago.
I’ve had some ups and some downs. (Literally, that’s what I do all day). But also figuratively, I fell and twisted my ankle just before the NOC and that’s caused some grief, and when I thought my phone was broken that was a bad couple of days.
The ups more than make up for it, though. Yesterday I waited on the trail for 20 minutes for a bear to finish grooming her cubs, so I could pass them! (This was during my phone not working stage, so sadly I have no pictures). I’ve met a lot of day hikers who affirm that I am indeed hardcore, and I feel stronger than I ever have in my life. Like, I obsessively feel my legs, just to make sure they’re actually mine.
I think I understand how isolation makes people crazy. If I didn’t have the stink pod to come ‘home’ to every night, who knows where my mind would end up. Being alone in the woods all day, I start to get weird. The other day, my pack started to feel like there was a chimpanzee hanging on my back.
And from the strange to the gross, last night when we got to the hotel, I went to the bathroom. When I pulled my pants down, a fly flew out. I guess it got in on my last bathroom break in the forest… a true hiker trash moment.
The weather has been amazing so far. In three weeks we’ve had two days of rain, and I actually mostly enjoyed it. I was nervous about how cold the smokies would be, but I hiked a 19-mile day yesterday in a tank top. It was glorious.
We’ve just entered the part of the smokies that I hiked seven years ago. I’m excited to see if I recognize any of it. I’ve got some good memories from that trip, and the lovely ladies I shared it with. That was the first time I ever enjoyed hiking.
Today is our first real zero day, and I am fully enjoying it. Doing nothing is amazing. We rode into Gatlinburg last night in the back of a truck, and had an amazing Thai chicken pizza at the mellow mushroom. Who knew curry and cucumbers on pizza could taste so good?
The three of us are all sitting here writing our blog posts while our laundry dries. The rest of our day involves napping, shopping, bathing, eating and a hot tub. It’s going to be a good afternoon.
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